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Hidden Treasure at Newhall Memorial


Posted: February 26, 2008 8:13 p.m.
Updated: April 28, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Does the local community know what a hidden and rare gem it holds in its midst, in the form of the Henry Mayo Newhall Ambulatory Care Center, the Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center and, especially, the rare and unique Dr. Gregory Senofsky?

Through a very fortuitous series of events, I came to be aware of Dr. Senofsky and his unusual talent with respect to breast-sparing surgical breast cancer excisions via wire bracketing techniques. I had recently been diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ breast cancer (in October 2007) when Dr. Senofsky's skills were made known to me by the husband and son-in-law of two former patients of his, whom I happened to meet on one of my many business trips to the Los Angeles area.

I had been seen by three renowned local surgeons, one an associate professor of plastic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and chief of plastic surgery at Magee-Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh; one an associate professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who serves as the co-director of the Comprehensive Breast Program of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and Associate Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology; and one an associate professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and co-director of the combined Breast Program at UPMC/Magee-Women's Hospital in my current home town of Pittsburgh, Pa.

All three are highly regarded in their field. However, none of the local surgeons felt my breast could be spared and the cancer successfully removed. The plastic surgeon, after consultation with one of the breast cancer surgeons, wrote to tell me that, in his professional opinion, any attempts at sparing my breast were "ill-advised."

I am writing to you today, after two excisions performed by Dr. Senofsky on the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital campus (on Jan 25, 2008 and Jan. 31, 2008) to tell you that I have retained a lovely, though smaller, breast, and that the pathology performed after the second excision reveals the two magic words in cancer surgery: clear margins.

I have only the very best words of thanks not only for the empathy, but also the incredible skill, talent, accuracy, thoroughness and simply "best in class" nature of the professional treatment I received. I could have gone to Sloan Kettering, to Johns Hopkins, to abide by the recommendations made locally by very competent doctors, but instead, I chose Dr. Senofsky and Newhall Memorial. And I am convinced I could not possibly have had a better experience anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world.

I have only two requests of the local community that holds this treasure. First, cherish and value it: it is a remarkable resource that needs to be recognized. And, last and perhaps more importantly, I would like to note that, as a patient there on a terribly rainy, blustery day, having to move to the ambulatory care center from the imaging center, with wires in and out of me after a very difficult medical procedure, was very difficult.

I highly recommend to those who may be able to effect a change to try to provide sufficient room in one location for both the pre-surgical procedures and then the actual surgery. Moreover, a slight improvement in wire placement technique can likely be gotten by using an MRI visual diagnostic over the mammography technique currently in use. I suspect that had my wires been placed under MRI vs. mammography, a re-excision could have been avoided. I hope the community can find its way clear to make sufficient, adjacent, co-located space for all breast cancer excision procedures and provide adequate equipment for the recommended improvement.

Remember: I flew almost 2,500 miles (from Pittsburgh) to be in your community; my friends and family flew over 3,000 miles to be with me. Please know you have something special that deserves your support. Please give these fine folks what they need to continue doing their remarkable work.

This column represents the views of Randi S. Waltuck, not necessarily those of The Signal.


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